Martin Gardner's Mathematics, Magic and Mystery

Martin's second published book Mathematics, Magic and Mystery (Dover, Jul 1956) appeared a few months before the start of his long tenure at Scientific American.

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The covers of both the first edition and more well known later edition are shown. It was arguably the first book aimed at the general public which combined mathematics and magic, but it wasn't the first time he'd written about the connection between the two. The book actually grew out of some related earlier writing of Martin's for Scripta Mathematica.

In a Mar 2006 interview published online at MAA.org in "Martin Gardner's Magic Spells" (Oct 2006), Martin revealed, "When I was living in New York, I use to go to a gathering of mathematicians at Yeshiva University, and it was a gathering that was run by a fellow named Jekuthiel Ginsburg who edited Scripta Mathematica, a magazine devoted to history of mathematics. He found out that I was interested in mathematical magic and asked me to do a series of articles, for Scripta. So I did a series of pieces, one on card tricks and one on dice tricks and on miscellaneous objects and so on, and I put those together and that became a book."

The result was a fine collection of the kind of magical entertainmment to be had with dice, dominoes, calendars, magic squares, watches, paper money, coins, matches, and checkerboards, much of it mathematical in nature, alongside topological tricks with afghan bands, handkerchiefs, string and rope, clothing, and rubber bands, and also geometrical vanishes, fibonacci numbers, and a variety of arithmetic tricks. He was able to include some top-notch recent material, e.g., effects of Bob Hummer, thanks to his long-standing relationships with magicians in Chicago and New York.

The book's title and spirit serve as inspiration for Math Awareness Month (Apr 2014).